Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Colossians Study: Read Your Bible, Read Your Life

I am so excited to announce my upcoming Colossians Bible study series on Zoom. It starts on Wednesday, July 8 at 6:30 PM, and the last one is August 12. Here is the link for our Weekly Wednesday Bible Study on Zoom. (You're also welcome to join us at that link on July 1 for our last class in the Prayer series.)

This is my description that just went up on its own page at Church of the Incarnation web site. And here's the link for the Study Guide for Week 1 so you can print it out ahead of time. 


Welcome to the Colossians class! My name is Virginia Knowles, and I am a Master of Ministry student at Asbury Theological Seminary. Creating and teaching this six week series is part of my Mentored Ministry internship at Church of the Incarnation, so I thank you so much for your interest in participating! My vision is to equip and empower people for spiritual growth through challenging times

We will use Inductive Bible Study (aka IBS) methods. Before you think you’re going to die of boredom from some sort of academic overload, I’d like to share a little story about why I am so excited about this. In February 2018 I joined a Bible study that Patricia Orlando was teaching as part of her own Asbury Seminary internship. One evening before the other students arrived, Patricia enthusiastically told me about the IBS classes she was taking. I told her to be quiet because she was making me drool. This is what I always wanted! After she packed up her books and left that night, God gave me a gentle nudge that it was finally my time to go to seminary. I started that fall as a 55 year old newly single mother of ten teen and adult children. Going to Asbury Seminary gave me my life back. True story. IBS is powerful like that. That is why I am so excited about teaching this Colossians class with IBS methods, and that’s why Patricia is so excited about Psalms that she’s teaching them in the TransPlanted women’s study every other Saturday morning. (Tune in! It’s rich!) You gotta watch out when you go to a Bible study or prayer meeting! Who knows what God will do next?!? Maybe change a life… I hope so! God is so good!

So, what is Inductive Bible Study? Hey, this is just an intro page. You’ll have to get into it to know exactly what I’m talking about! Let’s just say it’s a set of methods for seeing for yourself in a new/old way what the Bible really says and not just what you thought it said because of what someone else said. We will cover Observation (what does it say?), Interpretation (what does it mean?), and Application (what in the world am I supposed to do with it now?). Once you learn the methods, you can apply them to any Scripture passage, and, as you’ll (hopefully) see in this class, you can use them to study your own life too. That’s the “Read Your Life” part of the deal - helping you explore your God-given uniqueness, story, and purpose. I’m creating each week’s Read Your Life exercise for personal insight and transformation. 

New to Bible study? No problem! You won’t be a novice when we’re done! Questions are absolutely encouraged! It works best if you do your homework, but if you don’t, or if you’ve missed classes, feel free to jump in and join us anyway! You’re not getting graded. And even though each week builds on the previous ones, we will review and each class can stand on its own. I value your participation no matter what your level of experience. Just do what you can and we’ll all grow together! I can’t wait to see you there!

Join the meeting at: Weekly Wednesday Bible Study on Zoom on Wednesdays at 6:30 PM from July 8 - August 12, 2020.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Episode 7: Growing in Time Management

Episode 7: Growing in Time Management

Do you have challenges in managing your time, whether it is in ministry or beyond? Let's think about a sensible framework for planning schedules while leaving flexibility for the unexpected. 

Quick recap of the time management framework:
  1. Morning, midday, and evening routines
  2. Scheduled commitments
  3. Big and medium projects
  4. Random little things that can fit in around the others
  5. Buffer time for the unexpected

Here are some of the resources I mentioned in this episode.

Lectio365 is the prayer app I like to listen to at night as I am getting ready to sleep. I do this on my phone, but their web site has so many other prayer resources that it's worth a long look too. 

Trello is a project management program that I use to organize my seminary assignments and other complex tasks. I can use it as a phone app or on my laptop. On the laptop, I can copy and paste assignments and web links from Canvas, which is where they are assigned by Asbury. These are screenshots from the phone app of a list called Asbury Assignments, and then a checklist within a card called Week 2 Assignments. Note that I put links to those assignments right within the check list. You will also see on the left hand screenshot that 8 of the 12 assignments for the Week 2 Assignments card have been completed and that I have read 5 of 5 chapters of my Practical Theology text. Each card can also have a due date.

Google Keep is a program, also available for app and computer, which allows you to create all sorts of lists. I turn on the check box function and the nest the lists under several sections. Here are screenshots of parts of my Monday list from a few weeks ago. I copy my master list for each day of the week on the day I need it, then customize it for that day. There might be a particular errand or task that I need to do that day. Or I can move a priority task up into that top section if I want to do it in a certain sequence and make sure that it is seen and accomplished. When I finish an item, I just tap it to check it off, and then it moves automatically to the bottom of the list. That gives me a record of what I actually did that day. The cute emojis keep me extra motivated.

FYI, on Money Monday, as seen above, I make sure everything is in order with my financial accounts. 

I use Google Sheets to track and project my internship hours. This is a cropped slice of my document as seen on my phone. Note that each week has totals, and there is a running total of hours from week to week.

Did you see the Sing item in my Google Keep screenshot? Yes, I honestly do tell myself to sing each day! I recently saw that reminder, grabbed the nearest hymnal (I keep a few next to my reading chair), and found a lovely  vintage hymn called "God We Praise" that I had never seen before. Now I can't get the melody out of my head... I'll end this blog post with the chorus: "Great and holy, is the Lord of all, daily guiding where his blessings sweetly fall. Love and mercy crown our earthly ways. Gladly, gladly, God we praise."

Bless y'all!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Episode 6: Interview with Susan Parisher about Domestic Abuse

Jun 17, 2020

Susan Parisher had a distinguished 21 year career as a Military Police Officer. By day, she served as an Army prison warden, but at night, she was a prisoner in her own home, abused by her violent husband. She says she was "rock bottom and faithless," but she desperately cried out to God for help and safety. Then she had to defeat the lies in her head and replace them with the truth of God's love and Scripture. In this podcast episode, we talk about the recovery process, being sensitive among those who are dealing with ongoing trauma/PTSD, and recommendations for church leaders as they are planning sermons.

Susan's web presence:

A few helpful articles from Susan's website:

Susan talks about reading the book of Proverbs every month for three months was one key way to shift toward the truth about her experience. You can start reading it right here, right now. Pick a version!

My last three podcast episodes were about the Church's Reponse to Marital Abuse. If you only have time to listen to one, pick Episode 5!

Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Healing Hunger Food Pantry

Yours truly!

Our church's mission trip to Honduras, originally scheduled for next month, was postponed until next year due to COVID. I asked Father Tom Phillips if, instead of winding down, we could instead wind up the team's efforts and start serving in our local Hispanic community. This serves multiple purposes. It provides practical help to people who need it. It gives our team cross-cultural training opportunities in preparation for going to Honduras. It fosters our congregation's relationships within the diocese and the community. And it gives me a way to gather internship hours. (I'd be doing it anyway, though.)

Father Tom put me in touch with Padre Jose Rodriguez, the priest at Jesus de Nazaret, one of the three Hispanic congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida. I was already Facebook friends with him, so this worked out well! Jose has kindly agreed to allow us to collaborate with his parish in serving the community, as well as to provide significant cross-cultural training for our team and other parish members who want to participate.

Jose's congregation, along with Christ the King which meets at the same location, run the Healing Hunger food pantry on the second Saturday morning of each month in the Azalea Park area of Orlando.

Church of the Incarnation (where I attend) is now tentatively scheduled to run a major food drive in July and August, and then serve at the pantry's monthly event on August 8. In preparation for leading our team there, I visited the pantry this morning to get an on-the-job orientation from Jose. I helped pack some of the food outside, and then went inside to pack more. Afterwards, Jose took the time to talk with me about what Nazaret is doing within the Azalea Park community.

About 229 families (representing 879) people received about a week's worth of food this morning. This includes meat, eggs, fresh produce (a surprise delivery from Second Harvest), breads, and non-perishable foods.

I loved being down there! I look forward to returning again in July, and then taking our team down there in August. We'll be gearing up about two weeks in advance of that, as we gather food from our members and the local community. I'll keep you posted! 

Until then, here are just a few of the photos from this morning's pantry event. It is drive through due to COVID. There is more that they would regularly do. 

Bagging up food from Second Harvest

For a drive through event, the bags are packed before distribution.
Pre-COVID, this was a "client choice" pantry.

Volunteers gathered basic information, then gave out the fresh and non-perishable food.
More family members, more food!

The Azalea Project is another initiative related to Jesus de Nazaret.

Grace and peace!


Saturday, June 6, 2020

Episodes #3-5: The Church's Response to Marital Abuse

Podcast Episodes on The Church's Response to Marital Abuse

This three part podcast is about the Church's Response to Marital Abuse. It is based on my research report "Examination and Recommendations on the Church's Response to Marital Abuse" written for my Practical Theology class at Asbury Seminary. You can read the PDF version here.

The three parts of the series are Examining the Church's Response to Marital Abuse, Theological Reflections on the Church's Response to Marital Abuse, and Recommendations for the Church's Response to Marital Abuse.

I have already written extensively on domestic violence. Most of my articles are available on my Domestic Violence Resource on one of my other blogs. On that page, there are also links to many of the books listed in my research.

Recommended books quoted in my research paper:
  • Give Her Wings: Help and Healing After Abuse by Megan Cox 
  • Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife: My Story of Finding Hope after Domestic Abuse by Dr. Ruth A. Tucker 
  • A Model for Marriage: Covenant, Grace, Empowerment and Intimacy by Jack O. Balswick and Judith K. Balswick
  • The Life-Saving Divorce: Hope for People Leaving Destructive Relationships by Gretchen Baskerville
  • Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities by Dr. David Instone-Brewer
  • And Marries Another: Divorce and Remarriage in the Teaching of the New Testament by Dr. Craig Keener
  • No Place for Abuse: Biblical and Practical Resources to Counteract Domestic Violence by Catherine Clark Kroeger and Nancy Nason-Clark 
  • Suffering and the Heart of God: How Trauma Destroys and Christ Restores by Dr. Diane Langberg
  • Survivor Care: What Religious Professionals Need to Know about 
    Healing Trauma
    by Dr. Christy Gunter Sim
  • The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, Dr. Bessel. 
Recommended articles mentioned in my research paper:

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Episode 2: Prayers for Racial Reconciliation and Justice

Several studies and surveys reveal black Americans retain remarkably strong levels of religious beliefs and practices. And that spiritual core ...
Episode 2: Prayers for Racial Reconciliation and Justice

In this episode, I share Prayers for Racial Reconciliation and Justice from the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music of the Episcopal Church.

Click here to access more resources from the Episcopal Church on racial reconciliation.

I am trying to listen and to make space for more experienced voices on this topic. Yet I also wish to unequivocally state that I oppose racism in all its forms, most especially systemic injustice and oppression.

May God shut the mouths of fools, and open the mouths of the wise.

Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

Monday, June 1, 2020

Episode 1: This is My Story

Episode 1: This is My Story

In this first episode of my Growing into the Ministry podcast, I am sharing the story of how I, as a fifty-something home schooling mother of 10, ended up in seminary. My ministry started long before that, but it's certainly not over. What will this new chapter hold?

This Florida girl in cold Kentucky for
a wonderful week of classes in March
My friend Patricia, mentioned in this podcast,
preaching a chapel service
at Asbury Seminary's Orlando campus.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Growing into the Ministry

Welcome to my new blog, Growing into the Ministry!

So you’ve heard of people “going into the ministry” -- but what happens after that? I'd like to shift the focus to “growing into the ministry” - continuing your spiritual formation and pursuing excellence as you enter and experience Christian service. I want to read and hear stories of faithful women and men who have followed the call of God into ministry, and despite the many challenges, are learning to flourish. This is not just for professional clergy, but for all disciples of Jesus who want to see the Kingdom of God transform the world: "on earth as it is in heaven."

Who am I? I'm Virginia Knowles, fifty-something home schooling single mother of 10 mostly adult children. In an unexpected turn of events, I am fulfilling a lifelong dream: I'm most of the way through my MA in Ministry at Asbury Theological Seminary. This summer I'm doing an intensive internship for my Mentored Ministry class. The coronavirus crisis is making it a challenge to fulfill the required hours in an already short semester, so I'm turning to virtual ministry as an alternative. This is just one piece of it. I've got a lot up my sleeve... Wait - I'm not wearing sleeves in this picture. Better luck with the next one.

But here's the thing. This is not just about hours. It's about growth. It's about leaning into God, as well as learning from others. 

So this here is my online home for resources related to "growing into the ministry." I'm also starting a podcast of the same name, and this is one of my places to park those episodes in an accessible place. I hope this will serve as an inspiration to you!

This blog and podcast will also serve my Empowering Christian Women ministry which has a Facebook page (same name) and a large private Facebook group called The Goals Gathering. This particularly serves the needs of women who have experienced crisis in the form of family or religious abuse, both of which are disempowering. However, I think there will be plenty of material here for other women too.

Say a prayer for me!

Trusting God for big and small things,
Virginia Knowles